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The Published Author Podcast

DISRUPTION PROOF, NEW BOOK BY BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE LEAN ENTREPRENEUR

Brant Cooper’s front-row seat to the dot-com boom and crash and subsequent experiences with startups led him to write a series of books to help entrepreneurs build more successful startups. More recently, he’s turned his attention to how startups prepare for the long term by making sure they survive the short term with his new book, Disruption Proof.

In this episode, Brant talks about how writing a book is a lot like starting a business, how he tested his content before putting it in book form, his writing routine, and how he creates his books by dictating them as keynote speeches first.

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Josh Steimle:

Welcome to the Published Author Podcast, where we help entrepreneurs learn how to write a book and leverage it to grow their business and make an impact. I'm your host, Josh Steimle. Today, my guest is Brant Cooper. Brant Cooper is the CEO and Founder of Moves the Needle, a consultancy that helps organization reimagine their mindset for the 21st century. Brant has written four books, including the New York Times bestseller, The Lean Entrepreneur. One of my favorites and another one of my favorites, a little blue book called The Entrepreneur's Guide to Customer Development. His latest book, Disruption Proof is due out October 26th, 2021. Brant, Welcome to the show.

Brant Cooper:

Thank you for having me. Excited to be here.

Josh Steimle:

Now, Brant, you have an exciting career path as an entrepreneur and as a consultant mentor whisperer for many other entrepreneurs out there from your books. Can you give us a little bit of background though, before the books came along, what were you doing? What was your career path like?

Brant Cooper:

Yeah. I mean, I sort of never considered myself an entrepreneur. So, I lived through dotcom boom and bust. So, I was up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley, and worked for several startups there. Prior to that, I had worked for small consulting firms where I was kind of the IT guy. So, coming out of college, I was, you know, computers and networking was just really starting in businesses. And I was the IT guy and you know, I was sort of not a great employee. I was always tossed around like a hot potato for manager to manager.

Josh Steimle:

I can relate to that.

Brant Cooper:

Yeah. And so not really a happy camper. I mean, I think I was a good worker, but I just wanted to do things my own way, right. So, then moving to the first startup is really where I felt that, you know, that energy for the first time where your manager was actually really more likely to just tell you to go do your stuff and do it the best you can. And you had sort of that freedom to exercise your creativity and your inspiration and get the job done. And so I kind of caught that startup bug. And so that's what I did, you know, all late 90s and early 2000s until the crash. And then it was after the crash the dotcom boom busting that, you know, there was a number of people that were writing about, well, why are we creating startups to look like big businesses? And so I was part of that movement. And you mentioned a couple of the names earlier, Steve Blank, and Eric Ries and some other voices in there. And I ended up writing the first book that talked about lean startup and customer development and product market fit, and really launched a whole new career from there.

Josh Steimle:

And it’s kind of hard to overemphasize how important this was, because when I was starting my business, I also went through the dot-com boom and crash and all that. We didn't have any of this material out there. There was nothing to guide us. I mean, there were these books, like the entrepreneurs MBA or something, but there were, like you said, there were these books that taught you how to take a big business and adapt that model to a small business, but that's not really what we needed as entrepreneurs. Can you talk to us a little bit more about the need that you saw in the market for this type of book that you ended up writing?

Brant Cooper:

Yeah, I think you're spot on, right. So, corporate innovation, you know, where they are doing their internal startup projects, you know, that the debates on how to do that were going on for decades, right. And the Bible, there was really Clayton Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma, which was really talking about how corporates don't know how to do this stuff, but the innovation industry was, you know, wrestling with how to do it. And then you have, I think you had some human centered design movements going on. But up in Silicon Valley, I think we were kind of really unaware of all of those things. Startup people like to invent, reinvent everything, including how to build products. And so, you know, there's actually some good reasons to do that. You're looking at things, you know, from a blank slate, you're looking at things in a new way. And so maybe you can create better ways of doing that.
And so the startup scene was sort of like, you know, how do we do this better? And I think that, you know, Steve Blank's genius really wasn't that he invented all of this stuff. He and Eric Ries invented words and ways to teach this stuff. But what Blank really did was to look backwards and go, well, let's look at the successful startups that started, you know, just a couple of founders and what were their practices that led them to success. And it ends up that your business is structured differently and your workers are managed differently. And so the need really was how do we emulate those that are successful as opposed to really the trend being that investors, advisors, mentors tend to come from the corporate world and so tend to put pressure startups to look like those big businesses. And that's still true to the day in my opinion, working in a bunch of startup ecosystems. But at least now we do have the books and the tools to do it differently.

Josh Steimle:

Now I often think as I'm writing books, it feels kind of like starting a business when I write a book, when you wrote your books, you went out, you found co-authors, were you the founder so to speak of these books? Or how did that come about that you guys decided to team up and write these?

Brant Cooper:

Well, I think you're exactly right. All books should be treated like a startup and Patrick Vlaskovits and I did that. So, we were, you know, two of only a few people that were talking about and writing about customer development, you know, in the late 2000s and were both in Southern California. So, we were only a couple of people down here. And so we teamed as co-founders from the get go. And so, you know, maybe people out there are kind of going like what you are co-founders of a book? And exactly right. It is like a startup. We had, you know, there was a Google group back then that was growing talking about these type of things, a guy named Rich Collins had started that and he started meetups, meetup.com was young then. And so there were meetups that were springing around in these different cities to talk about these principles. And so our market, it's often not this way, but our market, our target market was really very clear. Because there were these communities growing around these concepts, we knew who the market was. And so the way we divided our responsibilities really was that I was the writer and Patrick was responsible for the marketing in sales. And the original Cus Dev (ph) website looked like a SaaS Landing Page. You know, you had your different bundles that you could buy. So, it was very much run like a startup. And of course I was fortunate that I had a co-founder right from the get go, where we had a natural split of what our duties were. And like you said, we treated it like a startup.

Josh Steimle:

Now often with startups and startup teams, there can be some friction. It sounds like you had a pretty good working relationship there. Were there any challenges or any lessons learned working with co-authors that might be instructive for other first time authors out there?

Brant Cooper:

Yeah. I mean, I don't know if it's necessarily a co-founder thing. I mean, I guess there's always assumptions that you have in working with other people and, you know, ironically the whole lean startup customer development stuff is about testing your assumptions. And so, you know, there's always sort of I don't know, issues around assuming somebody's going to do something like, I guess I think that in the end, all of the books needed better editing than what I had. And so I think that it's both a way to overcome writer's block and also a way to create a better book is hire good editing, and don't wait for a publisher if you're going to go through a publisher. And don't rely on necessarily people that you, you know, just to read it and give you feedback. It really is the best books are well edited in my opinion.

Josh Steimle:

And speaking of that testing and experimentation, how did you implement that with a book you were writing before? So, you had content that was out there that you were testing out. Can you talk to that a little bit more? And did you, as you were writing the book, were you intentionally testing content out to see, do we want to include this? Do we not want to include this? How did you decide what to include in the books?

Brant Cooper:

Yeah. And so in the customer development book, we had explicit customer development and reach out where we were talking to people on a regular basis that were part of that Google group. We were sending them chapters and getting input. And so that was sort of the most obvious example from The Customer Development Book, from The Lean Entrepreneur Book, what was interesting. It took me two years to write at that book. And really the reason was because I was workshopping the content. And so I would be doing keynotes and workshops around the world where I was trying to come up with what's a framework that will help people think through this. Especially the metric section, the value stream section that's in the back of the book or the last half of the book. It's just not obvious. It's hard. Even to this day, I'm still teaching those principles because they're only now kind of starting to catch on. It's really hard to come up with metrics to measure the progress of any endeavor that you're working on. And so I would workshop that. So, that was literally me working with people in workshops trying to figure out if I've got the content right. And so that's another way to test whether you're getting the right material.

Josh Steimle:

Now, The Customer Development Book, that was the first one to come out, right?

Brant Cooper:

That's correct.

Josh Steimle:

And what was the reception like to that? How did that change your career path or people knowing you within the startup ecosystem?

Brant Cooper:

Yeah. So, remember this is a self-published book, which I think is significant. And I think it's also, you know, coming out of the recession 2010. So, whenever you're coming out of recession, there's an entrepreneur boom. And part of that boom is always, you know, universities and accelerators and incubators that support system for startups. And so there was, you know, very quickly a demand, not only for the book, but for speaking in workshops and from the get go Patrick and I charged for those. And so, you know, those were pretty lean years to be honest, but it created, you know, a new business helping founders, hopefully ones that had raised some amount of money, how to apply these things. And what was interesting is, you know, Eric's book came out, I think 2011 and that really sort of blew the top off of the market.
But a lot of those startup ecosystem participants were very wary about endorsing the book. Like if you looked around at the investors and the accelerators at the time, they're kind of like, oh, I don't know. I kind of like fat startups and lean means small, and we want big startups. And so there was a lot of myth debunking that we had to spend time doing. But eventually all of those, most of those inventers jumped on board and now they talk about it as it's the most obvious thing in the world. But it is just kind of interesting to watch the development of the community, the entrepreneurs grasp onto it very quickly, because it was something that they could apply immediately and they wanted help doing it. The investors tended to go like, well, we kind of know all of this stuff, so we don't want you in here. And so that was a little bit of a challenge. But yeah, so I think now it's sort of considered, yeah, this should be pretty obvious stuff now.

Josh Steimle:

So, what was the market need for The Lean Entrepreneur that you saw that inspired you to write that book after Customer Development?

Brant Cooper:

You know, again, I love Eric Ries’s Lean Startup Book. It's brilliant, but it doesn't really get into the depths of the how to, he left that I think up to the community to figure out. And Ash Maurya had come out with his book Running Lean, which was also a very good book about how to do this stuff specifically for, you know, emerging SaaS businesses. I wanted to write a more general book about how to do it, how to run a disciplined experiment, you know, actually creating a hypothesis and tracking the experiment. And I wanted to write a book on how to do the interviews and so a deep dive into understanding your customers and then how to actually come up with the right metrics you should be focusing on. And so I have a framework, the value stream discovery tool that helps people figure out what are all the metrics that you can, you should be tracking. And then, you know, I give tons of examples and it makes the book maybe sort of a slog to get the through in some parts, because you want to try to find what applies to your business, but I wanted to go deep rather than broad. So, that was really what The Lean Entrepreneur was for.

Josh Steimle:

And so what did you learn from writing the first book, Customer Development Book that you took into The Lean Entrepreneur in order to improve it, or to make it more of a fit for what you wanted to accomplish with it?

Brant Cooper:

Well, I think that, again, I think that we, you know, lessons learned obviously, you know, always running a startup. And so I think that the challenge for us was, is that the second book was going through a traditional publisher. And so we have less control over that, right? So, you have less control over what content you're going to give away. You have less control about whether you're going to give away a PDF version. You know, the website isn't really the same thing because all of the sales go through the bookstores. So, it was a lot of new learning again because the business model essentially was different in the second one. And I think also like I mentioned before, the amount of work involved in workshopping the ideas was more in depth and required a lot more diligence and discipline than I think the first book. The first book kind of wrote itself, to be honest, there was so much out there that people were talking about and we had so many ideas, it was very easy to write.
But I do think that, you know, if any of your audience is going down the traditional path, I think people still operate under the assumption that the publishers going to do stuff. And the publisher actually doesn't do a whole heck of a lot on the marketing side. And so I think everything that we learned on the marketing side from the Cus Dev book, we also then applied to The Lean Entrepreneur. In other words, you know, figuring out who your target market is and running, you know, campaigns and email lists and content and all of those great things geared towards your specific market segments, whether they be again, whether they're the early stage startup, the funded startup, the accelerator programs, or getting into the corporate innovation world.

Josh Steimle:

Where did you see the most success in marketing your books? What worked?

Brant Cooper:

You know, I think that, to me, it's always been speaking. So, if I could get on stage which I never knew I had in me, but I absolutely love it. And so I think that's, you know, you usually have hundreds of people in the room and so you're actually hitting a large number of people that are in your community because they are only showing up at that event because they're part of that community. And so it's sort of self-selecting your target market. So, I think that was probably the successful for me really all the way through The Lean Entrepreneur and creating the business Moves the Needle out of that has been the speaking engagements.

Josh Steimle:

Now, The Lean Entrepreneur went on to become a New York Times bestseller, right?

Brant Cooper:

That's true.

Josh Steimle:

Was that a surprise to you or was that something that you hoped would happen or dreamed would happen or?

Brant Cooper:

Yeah, all of that. I mean, dream, hope, surprise. You know, I think that the trick is in the pre-orders. And, you know, the workshops and keynotes and the speaking that we were doing all became pre-orders. So, we sold pre-orders of the book for attendees to those items and then, you know, ran our campaigns for pre-orders. And so that's kind of the trick and it's hard and it's still unpredictable and you don't know what the result is going to be. The New York Times bestseller list is an algorithm. It's not just counting numbers. There's an editorial process part of that. And, you know, you can be accepted or not accepted for a variety of reasons.

Josh Steimle:

And so you said it was a surprise for you. Can you tell us about the moment when you found out and how did you find out? Was it just on the list one day? And somebody said, hey, you're on the New York Times bestseller list, or did they send you a tracker or something?

Brant Cooper:

You track it on a daily basis. You're watching, you kind of know, you know, typically it's going to happen in the first week or you might get into the monthly version. And so, you know, you're tracking it and the moment it happens, you go out and you buy that newspaper and you hold onto that newspaper. And, you know, I don't know. I tend to be not that self-promotional. I mean, I struggle to do it, so I do do it, but it's not, doesn't come naturally to me. So, I don't kind of then, you know, run up and down the street with the newspaper in my hand, you know, the new phone books here, the new phone books here. But yeah, I mean, you know, I did, I let the people closest to me know, and it was a very happy moment. And, you know, Patrick and I for sure celebrated that.

Josh Steimle:

Well, it's got to be fun. Quick break here. Are you an entrepreneur? Do you want to write a book that will help you grow your business? Visit publishedauthor.com, where we have programs to fit every budget. Programs that will help you write and publish your book in as little as 90 days starting at just $39 per month, or if you're too busy to write your book, we'll interview you and then write and publish your book for you. Don't let the valuable knowledge and experience you have go to waste. Head on over to publishedauthor.com to get the help you need to become a published author. You've already waited long enough, do it today. Now, back to the show. So, take us through the rest of your writing career, leading up to your latest book, which is coming out as of this recording, it's coming out in about a month and a half, October 21st, Disruption Proof the new book, but take us through the interviewing in years between The Lean Entrepreneur and Disruption Proof and what you worked on during that time?

Brant Cooper:

Yeah. So, the company Moves the Needle helps bring an entrepreneurial spirit to large enterprises. So, we moved really pretty much from the startup world into corporate innovation, which is really just a hard slog. And every year we added services based upon what we had learned in trying to make the impact of what we were doing bigger. And so it was very typical to start in small underfunded innovation groups, and then run into the obstacles that the leadership wasn't on board or that we weren't going broad enough. We weren't trying, we weren't including product or marketing or whatever. And so we would add services to try to get them engaged as well, so that we could demonstrate that the principles really are for uncertainty wherever it exists. And so after 5, 6, 7 years of doing this, that's sort of my epiphany, I've asked Steve Blank, if I could add a fifth epiphany to his, you know, four steps to the epiphany, if I could add a fifth step, it would really be is that this apply these techniques, this mindset applies to all uncertainty, not just the massive uncertainty of a startup endeavor.
And so when I'm working with these large enterprises, they might have uncertainty, well, the pandemic really drove this home, right? So, suddenly your core business isn't doing as well. And you have to, well, what do I need to do now with my small business customers or my enterprise customers or my consumers to get them back in that I can, you know, create some value for them that they're willing to pay for. And then it suddenly your core business is acting like a startup again, because there's so much uncertainty. And so I think my, that really what got me to this next book is that we need this uncertainty every, or the uncertainty exists everywhere. And so we need to bring this mindset, this new mindset to everywhere inside companies and it also then reinforces for startups and entrepreneurs that in order to maintain their, you know, wear many hats and fast moving and agile culture that they need to manage and structure their company differently, even as they grow up.
And so I think, you know, the fourth step of Steve Blank's models, I'm not sure is true anymore, which is how you then create these, you know, the structure and processes of a big business. And I really think that the successful 21st century business is that that structure and management looks more like a big startup ironically than what traditional corporates do now. And so I think, you know, the way Amazon, Google, Facebook, Spotify, and their guilds and tribes, I think that's actually the way big companies look going forward as opposed to sort of traditional structures.

Josh Steimle:

That's really interesting. And you mentioned Clayton Christensen earlier and Innovator's Dilemma and solution and such. And of course that's all about disrupting markets, but once you disrupt them and then you become the incumbent, then you've got to deal with this other problem, which is, well, Clayton recommends you have to disrupt yourself every so often, but you have to look out for all these startups coming from underneath that are going to take you down. Now, I notice this book seems to be a lot beefier than the other books that you've put out, right. So, it looks like a lot more research went into this. How long did this take to write? How long have you been working on this?

Brant Cooper:

Well, you know, I planned the book in my mind for a couple of years, and then I wrote it probably in eight months during the pandemic.

Josh Steimle:

There's a lot of books coming out of this pandemic I've noticed.

Brant Cooper:

Yeah.

Josh Steimle:

They're like pandemic baby books or whatever, you know, it's like --

Brant Cooper:

Exactly right, exactly.

Josh Steimle:

Everybody's sitting at home and they're like, maybe I should write a book.

Brant Cooper:

Right. What else am I going to do? Yeah. So, mine was in the planning and I started it really writing in August of last year. And I submitted the manuscript by middle of December. And, you know, then there's a couple of months after that of some pretty heavy cleanup editing going on. So, that's sort of the eight-month figure. What's interesting is that I didn't set out to write a pandemic book, but the pandemic actually drove home a lot of points that I was already making. And so a couple of the case studies end up being how organizations responded to the pandemic after having adopted some of these mindset principles for the last five years. And so I find that pretty extraordinary, because it's unusual for you to be able to see actual real world evidence of ideas, right.
A lot of business books are sort of look backwards, but they don't, it's not like it's not real scientific method, right. They can look backwards their history books and they’re hoping that whatever they can extract from the history will help companies moving forward. But in this case, actually those principles that we were working with two of these organizations for the last five or six years, they applied those when the pandemic hit and had some pretty extraordinary results. And so that's kind of cool and fortuitous.

Josh Steimle:

What are some of those examples? What are some of the case studies that you referenced or that you thought about as you were writing the book?

Brant Cooper:

Well, so Gerber Technology is a company in Connecticut that makes digital fabrication equipment for fashion brands. So, basically they're making digital cutters and digital sewers and this 3d software that goes along with it, so that people can, so fashion brands can actually automate a much of their clothing production. And so when the pandemic hit, and even before March, a lot of the facilities are in China, either their own facilities or the facilities of their customers are in China and that stuff is getting shut down in January, February. And so they're seeing this coming and it's just, you know, revenues just collapsing. Within two or three weeks, they had pivoted their production to PPE, to surgical gowns, to masks. And they had created this open platform really where anybody could come on and contribute designs, competitors were loading, uploading design files that worked on their equipment.
There was a community that developed suddenly around, hey, we can show these fashion brands how to suddenly create not only things that will sell, but things that actually will positively affect the world because of what's happening with the pandemic. This was up and running and revenues coming in within a month. And it, so just to me, extraordinary awareness of what was going on in the world. The ability to dynamically in the moment change what you’re doing in the core business, in order to respond to this change in the world, this is what creates a resilient business. And of course you still don't abandon your core business. It allows you the freedom and the revenues that are coming in allows you to go back and then retrofit or help the core, you know, the old core business change in order to adapt to the new environment.
And you're also there for your customers then, right, because you're saving the revenues of all of your fashion brands. So, you're keeping your customers alive, which is only going to benefit you when the world comes back. So, the speed of change of what this company did I think is absolutely extraordinary. And Karsten Newbury, the chief innovation guy there, or chief product guy, I can't remember his title, but directly attributes that to the lean innovation principles that, you know, he had been applying there for several years before around empowering people to make those changes quickly based upon the information that they're receiving. And so I think that's a great story.
The other story is The City of Hayward. And so this is a government entity which is pretty extraordinary. And they again have been practicing these lean innovation techniques for years. And within a few weeks, of a couple weeks of the pandemic hitting they had the nation's first free COVID testing facility up and running, and this is a small, not wealthy city in, you know, sort of stuck right there in Silicon Valley. So, all of the Silicon Valley surrounding them, all of the most, you know, supposedly agile companies in the world, and it's this little city government that was able to spin up this testing site that the county then leveraged and they had their pictures on their sites and other places, lines of cars of people lined up to get testing. And they did this based simply on the fact that the fire chief came to the city manager and said, listen, I've got a couple paramedics that have been exposed, and there's no way to get them tested. So, they can't come into work and we need this stuff. So, I think I should spin up a lab and she said, go do it. And so just again, it's that agility, that dynamic behavior that creates resilient companies, organizations, all organizations, and that's really at the heart of Disruption Proof, right.
So, Disruption Proof in my mind is not Clayton Christensen's you have to disrupt yourself. It really isn't, it's almost the exact opposite of that. It’s that you have to be able to apply the entrepreneurial skills to your core business, to things that you do every day, because that's what's going to allow you to change in the face of what I consider to be this new normal of endless disruption, energy grid collapse, ships being stuck in a canal that disrupt global shipping, pandemics, insurgencies, you know, ransomware attacks on gas pipelines and hospital systems. This is the new norm. And so we have to create organizations that are able to respond quickly, if those organizations are going to survive and continue to provide the value for why they exist.

Josh Steimle:

Okay. So, this is pretty interesting because I'm a big fan of Clay Christensen and his work. And yet, I see what you're saying here. I would love to explore this a little bit more because what Clay says is that essentially if you're a successful business, you need to spin off a competitor to yourself that's going and to eat your own business essentially and take over, and then you just repeat this process over and over. And the only way you can do this successfully is really to separate those two entities so that the new lean entity takes down the old entity and absorbs it over time. And you're saying this isn't the model that we follow in the future, because the disruptions, in one sense, it's kind of coming too quick. We don't have time to spin off an entity and grow that thing over a few years until it eats the other one. We need to be disrupting ourselves on a daily basis, almost it sounds like, am I getting this halfway, right?

Brant Cooper:

Yeah. So, I mean, I guess I wouldn't, my only quibble would be, I say it wouldn't be disrupting yourself every day. It's really building flexibility into the company so that you're adapting, you can adapt. And so it's a little bit less than disrupting, it's adapting. I think that it's really sort of interesting. You know, I'm a huge fan of Christensen, but I don't think that his model applies to a majority of businesses in the digital age. He was writing in a time of huge technology disruptions. And I think that we're going to continue to have big technology disruptions. And so I think that if your business model is inventing, then I think that a lot of those principles still apply. If your primary risk is technical risk, then I think that those principles apply. But I think that most businesses, their primary risk is a market risk, not a technical risk. For most businesses, I mean, I think a vast majority, we know we can build it. It’s should we build it. And so I don't think that model applies anymore. I think it's really, you need to be testing about what changes you should be making.
Now, I guess the other thing that I'll throw out there is that if disruptions are happening, that are affecting our businesses on a daily basis, or even an annual basis, that changes the way we do our business. We have to take care of that first, or we're not going to be around to do the long-term stuff. If you're successful at creating what I call this rad business, resilient, aware, and dynamic, such that you can respond to the near term disruptions, you can adapt then that will free you up to exploring in bigger ways changes that might be happening two years down the road, three years down the road, five years down the road, or reimagining how your business might work 10 years down the road.
So, I don't want companies to stop doing that, but I am saying that they're not going to invest in that longer term if they don't have the near term stuff figured out. And I really think, again, the pandemic kind of drives home is that a lot of these businesses don't have the one year zero to year two or year three figured out yet. And so, you know, I still talk at innovation conferences and close to innovation people. And they're biggest complaint still tends to be. And again, the pandemic drove this home is that long-term innovation is not being invested in. And so I think that we should invest in that, but I think that the reason why it's not being invested in is because the near term is so hard. And so I'm hoping that if we fix the near term, we also then we'll invest in the longer term.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah. I mean, the person who's starving today doesn't really care about their retirement plan.

Brant Cooper:

Well put yes.

Josh Steimle:

With this book, Disruption Proof that's coming out, you went through a publisher with this one, traditional publishing, Lean Entrepreneur's publishing, Customer Development with self-publishing. What was the thinking on traditional versus self-publishing, especially today when self-publishing is so easy to do and so accessible? And like you said, what does a traditional publisher actually do? Why did you choose to go with a traditional publisher on this book?

Brant Cooper:

Well, I think that the, so I'm probably not a 100% correct on this, but generally I think the only way to hit the list is to go through the traditional publisher.

Josh Steimle:

That tends to be true. Yes.

Brant Cooper:

So, the traditional publisher has the relationships with books stores and the relationships with, you know, distributing the book into airports and those type of things that it really pretty tough to do on your own. I will very likely self-publish again, a matter of fact, I have a version two of The Entrepreneur's Guide to Customer Development. That's in draft mode right now, maybe if you're interested in that. But in a lot of ways, in my opinion, you make more money from self-publishing. So, if you want to, if that's your primary deal or you want to make it part of other things that you're doing on, so you can offer it as, you know, part of a bundle, or if you want to offer it as a lead magnet, or those type of things self-publish is a great way to go.
I'm super fortunate that I still get, I think, more money from the original Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development, you know, sort of the long tail of that book than I do from the traditionally published book. So, that's interesting. But it really kind of comes down to what the objectives are of the author and I'm a huge fan of self-publishing. But I do think that there is a platform reach that you can, you know, leverage the traditional publishers for that's very difficult to do with self-publishing.

Josh Steimle:

Right. Because, I mean, if you do make it onto the New York Times bestselling list, there's credibility, there's reach. There are people who will read your book, who wouldn't read it, otherwise.

Brant Cooper:

That’s exactly right.

Josh Steimle:

Because they’ll be getting on that list. And so if you're trying to reach those people, it makes sense to go that ways, sounds like what you're saying.

Brant Cooper:

That's the truth. It's also, you know, we'll see if there's any media that pays attention to this launch, but again, you know, there's a little bit of authenticity and help that the traditional publisher can provide in that part of the launch.

Josh Steimle:

Got it. Well, Brant, thanks so much for visiting with us here today, and talking about the story behind your books. You mentioned that you have a second version of Customer Development that might be coming out. What are some of the other books that you have in mind for the future?

Brant Cooper:

Well, you know, I always, I don't know if this is good or bad, but I think that all of this, you know, lean stuff is super interesting to me obviously, but it's interesting when you start applying it to yourself as an individual as well as to businesses. And so there are things that I've taken from these journeys and applied it to my own life and relationships. And so, you know, there's still, you know, kind of that horrible phrase. There's another book in me that could be applying this stuff to how one manages their daily life and relationships that, that when I've talked to other people about, they seem very interested in it. So, who knows maybe that might be the next one.

Josh Steimle:

Got it. Now, one last question I wanted to ask was what is your writing style or your writing routine look like? How do you get the work done?

Brant Cooper:

I'm all over the map. So, I'm the one to come to when you've got writer's block or you're frustrated. So, I think that ideally you said an early morning time and a reasonable amount of time, you're going to commit to it like even an hour and you sit down and you write, and I don't really care whether you do it on paper, whether you do it on a computer, you're not allowed to not write. So, that means that if you're writing gibberish, you write gibberish. I actually sort of live as if there's no such thing as writer’s block, because you can always write something. And I think a lot of people stop themselves because they don't think that they're writing well. And, you know, kind of going way back to my comment on editing, don't worry about writing well, get it out. And it could be that you find that there's only one nugget in that hours’ worth of writing when you go back to it later on. But that one nugget will be a thread that you can pull and will produce a lot of quality content in my opinion. The second big tip that I have in the way that I actually wrote a lot of words was to set up as if I was doing a keynote. Again, maybe this isn't for everybody. I love to do keynote talks. But I would literally stand up, have a microphone and I would be running guitar. What is it called? The GarageBand, I'd be running GarageBand.

Josh Steimle:

GarageBand. I was thinking guitar hero is like --
(crosstalk)

Brant Cooper:

Yeah. Well, maybe that works too. If you want the soundtrack, you know, do the guitar hero, but so I'd run a GarageBand and I would do a keynote talk. And I was like talking to one author friend and they were talking about how, you know, what a slog it was to get this chapter out. And I go, I can get a chapter out in 20 minutes or 30 minutes. It needs heavy editing. And again, there's often too many ideas and they become multiple chapters, but just getting the words out and the ideas out allows you to, it just frees up the way I think. And I get into this stream of consciousness, which is really where all of the best idea and the best writing comes from anyways, if you can find that stream of consciousness. And I often found that that came to me when I didn't have to worry about the typing or the writing, it was just verbally going out. And then I would hire a, you know, sort of an intern type young person to go in there and just clean it up, like get rid of all the ums and all of the filler words and add some grammar to the text just to make it more readable. And then I would have something that I could work with in terms of structuring the book. So, that was the other big thing that I did just to get the content out.

Josh Steimle:

Great tips. Thank you so much Brant for being with us here today. If people want to connect with you, learn more about you, where's the best place for them to find you?

Brant Cooper:

Yeah. So, I'm Brant Cooper on all social media. So, please connect with me there, my email is [email protected] I respond to all emails if they don't go to spam. And brantcooper.com, people can learn more about Disruption Proof book and buy bundles there. So, you know, some special add-ons rather than just the book, but if you want just the book, you can pre-order at your favorite retailers. I'm also starting tomorrow launching a virtual book tour. So, you can check brantcooper.com for, you know, when I'm going to virtually appear, hopefully in a city near you. I'm trying to push book sales through the independent book sellers in order to support them and during the pandemic. And so would love to have people join me on that virtual tour.

Josh Steimle:

Perfect. Thanks so much for being with us here today Brant on the Published Author Podcast.

Brant Cooper:

Yeah. Thanks for having me. It was fun conversation.

Josh Steimle:

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